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Who gets your vote for data governance?

by Sean Ruck , Contributing Editor
From the January/February issue of DOTmed HealthCare Business News magazine

Today, Rob Barras is the VP of Healthcare for CTG. The company has a division called Health Solutions which represents about 20 percent of their business. However, at the beginning of his career, Barras worked for a company that was developing what they referred to as CHIN or community health information networks. It was one of the healthcare industry’s initial forays into creating systems where interoperability would be the main idea – before EHRs. But the company was stymied by two key issues and neither were technology-based problems.

The first, as Barras explained, was a political issue. By that he meant that healthcare systems didn’t want to share data with competitors in their region. The second challenge was figuring out who would pay for the networks. A sustainability model didn’t exist back then. “And guess what? Both of those things are a problem still today,” Barras said.

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“Now, those things start to go away when we focus on value-based care. Value-based care will be the mandate and should be the mandate now.”

To be successful, healthcare will need to be more proactive when it comes to adopting technology and change how it manages systems and protocol. He believes some of that change is already occurring.

“We recently conducted a CIO focus group about value-based care. Essentially, we proposed that IT needs a roadmap to determine what they prioritize, and their priorities should be tied to value-based care,” he said.

Of 12 CIOs in the room, all were in agreement. One added that his system is already sharing data with a crosstown competitor because they’re at risk for a shared population. “So now it makes sense. We can’t make decisions for a shared population with only some of the data. We need all of the data or more of it, in order to make smart decisions on how we’re managing that population. That openness is only going to increase as time goes on,” Barras said.

While there is a lot of work tied to interoperability, Barras believes that enterprise information management is the biggest challenge to address most of the issues. “We believe it’s the fundamental challenge as organizations start to understand value-based care and those requirements, not just from an IT perspective, but overall in the business.”

He said providers will want to use their data assets to address concerns, questions and problems. They’ll invest in analytic tools and platforms to answer those questions and deal with the problems. But they’re unlikely to achieve good results if they ignore a key ingredient. “The bottom line is that most organizations don’t have the established governance. Either population health governance or data governance is necessary to be successful in value-based care.”
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